As Ladakh simmers and India’s armed forces look to protect India’s sovereignty and integrity, here is a book that takes you on a roller-coaster ride through India’s wars and conflicts from 1972 to the current times, up to the brutal clash between India and China in the Galwan Valley on 15 June 2020.
Full Spectrum: India’s Wars | 1972-2020 is an exhilarating account of war and conflict in contemporary India. This is the author, Air Vice Marshal Arjun Subramaniam, an ex-fighter pilot-turned military historian. My book is a sequel to the highly successful India’s Wars: A Military History, 1947-1971, published in 2016, also by HarperCollins. If you want to read real stories of courage and leadership from war heroes and veterans, or are interested in a serious analysis of the various wars and conflicts that India’s army, navy, and air force have participated in, this is your go-to book. Even if you are a military history buff and have read other books from India on the subject, you would not have read one that simultaneously narrates action on the ground, in the air, and on the seas. Laced with detailed and well-presented maps and a collection of rare photographs, several of them from hitherto unseen personal collections of veterans, this book is essentially a hybrid narrative that should appeal to a wide cross-section of readers, ranging from the youth who want to know more about the Indian military to policymakers, academics and military officers themselves.
The structure, layout, and pace of the book are such that you can read it in one marathon sitting, or you can savour it over several bouts as most of the themes are covered in a maximum of two chapters each. So, you can read about the changing nature of warfare in South Asia and how India progressively developed its military capability. You can then embark on a journey through the steamy jungles of north-east India where the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been involved in a long counterinsurgency campaign against Naga insurgents. The action then shifts to 1984 and the Golden Temple in Amritsar where the Indian Army mounted Operation Blue Star to crush the terrorist movement led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. India occupied the Siachen Glacier and the Saltoro Range in April 1984 and the book takes you on a nail-biting journey to the heights of Bilafond La and Sela where even eagles don’t fly. Several stories of superhuman courage are recounted as the two chapters weave a gripping narrative that spans over two decades of fierce fighting in the most inhospitable terrain mankind has ever fought in. Haven’t you wondered why the Indian Army came off second best against the world’s deadliest terrorist organization, the LTTE, during Operation Pawan (1987-1990), or what happened in 1988 when India’s parachute brigade foiled a coup in the nearby Maldives and restored its president to power?
As the name suggests, Full Spectrum is about wars of all kinds and you will read about spine-tingling action by India’s Special Forces in J&K and various facets of how the Indian Army has fought against terrorists in the region and, at the same time, tried its best to restore peace. The book also takes you on a journey to Korea, Africa, and the Indian Ocean region, where the army, navy, and air force have actively contributed to UN peacekeeping operations. And finally, all the action with China along the Line of Actual Control and with Pakistan along the Line of Control, including the Doklam face-off and the Uri and Balakot strikes, is looked at with a fresh lens in chapters that deal with operations other than war or just short of war.
By the time you finish the book, you will realize why India’s armed forces are critical to the survival and growth of Indian democracy, and why they deserve to be read about and studied in greater detail. Having read the book, feel free to reach me at email@example.com with your comments and feedback. Happy reading and happy Scrolling!
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